In 2015, Camacho struck the proper balance of innovation, boldness, luxury (while remaining attainable for the everyman), and Americana—introducing American Barrel-Aged as the first cigar in a new series called “Master Built.” While not quite as luxurious and limited as the company’s Liberty Series, the Master Built Series showcases more innovative concepts, bridging the gap from Camacho’s baseline cigars to their most premium. For American Barrel-Aged, this meant incorporating primarily American-grown tobaccos, highlighted by the use of Corojo leaves in the cigar’s filler, which had been aged for five months in American oak barrels formerly containing Kentucky bourbon.
Camacho added to the Master Built Series in 2016 with Powerband, a cigar geared around motorcycle culture. For this blend, innovation came from a a proprietary Powerband™ bunching technique that boasted an ideal draw/construction, offering a consistent smoking experience from start to finish. Both Camacho ABA (American Barrel-Aged) and Camacho Powerband ranked among Cigar Dojo’s Cigar of the Year lists for their respective release years.
And while Powerband deviated from the unique characteristics of barrel aging, the company returned to this strategy for 2017’s addition to the Master Built Series—Nicaraguan Barrel-Aged. For this project, the cigars focus on Nicaraguan tobaccos that have been aged in some of the world’s oldest Nicaraguan rum barrels (Flor de Caña).
Nicaraguan Barrel-Aged Toro Breakdown
- Wrapper: Ecuador Habano 2000
- Binder: Negrito San Andres (Mexico)
- Filler: Nicaragua (Barrel-Aged Corojo ’99) | Honduras | Dominican Republic
- Factory: Diadema Cigars de Honduras, S.A. (Honduras)
- Production: Regular Production
- Vitola: 6″ x 50 Toro
- Price: $11.00 (MSRP)
Up until this point, Camacho has used Honduran-grown tobacco at the heart of each Master Built cigar, as the brand is known for their Honduran Original Corojo varietal. This holds true for nearly every cigar in the brand’s arsenal, from the core lineup to most blends within the Liberty Series. But for this Nicaraguan-based concept, the cigar rightfully called for a Nicaraguan varietal. Corojo ’99 leaves were grown in Estelí, Nicaragua and later aged for five months in barrels of Nicaragua’s prized Flor de Caña (whom ages their rum in used bourbon barrels).
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The look is befittingly similar to Camacho ABA, only altering the highlight color of copper to a more maroon-like metal—along the lines of rose gold. In addition, the bands appear smaller than the oversized style of ABA and Powerband. This is due to the unorthodox style of displaying the cigar’s title vertically, rather the horizontal lettering found on most cigars. But the “CAMACHO” design has been shrunk for NBA (Nicaraguan Barrel-Aged) to accommodate the smaller bands. The cigars boxes are highly glossed and lack clasps, instead offering a heavy lid that uses its weight to keep itself properly closed. As usual, the look is top notch, allowing no room for criticism.
The cigar itself has a light, dusty brown appearance. There are visible seams and few, medium-thick veins running the length of the toro. The cigar has a sturdy feel to it, with what looks to be a medium-firm bunch. Overall, a great appearance and solid feel in the hand.
On the nose, the wrapper shows sweet musk and a faint booziness. There are additional notes of cherry pulp, enhanced rum booziness, and light cedar on the foot. The pre-light draw is roughly medium, giving light notes of cedar/paper and white pepper.
The cigar lights up with an unexpected profile—contrary to the sweet and caramel-filled notes I’d imagined, the palate is dry and rough, with flavors of raw peppercorns, earth, corn chips (think FRITOS), and brush fire. This dark, dry, and robust beginning seemed to last around a half-inch for most samples, eventually opening up to include notes of charred oak, a subtle booziness, white pepper (a brighter spice sensation, compared to the black peppercorns at the start), and even a juicy, wine-like sweetness on the finish.
Most samples of NBA had a medium/medium-firm draw—often a bit tight, but always manageable. Medium-plus bursts of smoke can be exhaled from every puff, with only light draws needed. This is one of those smoking experiences that shows different notes between small and large puffs; with white pepper spices and the previously mentioned burning brush qualities on large puffs, and sweeter, sugar and white oak notes on small sips. Transitioning between the first two thirds, the NBA can typically be categorized as medium in strength, flavor, and body.
Further into the cigar, there are notes of creamy caramel, nutmeg, clove, and sugarcane—producing a combination reminiscent of a clean and refreshing mojito cocktail. The smoking experience is fairly nuanced, calling for somewhat close attention to experience many of the flavor notes (as opposed to the fuller flavors of American Barrel-Aged or Powerband). At times there are light, bubbly, and herb-like notes that, despite the cigar’s rum background, are actually reminiscent of a gin and tonic cocktail. Some of the samples began letting up in smoke output nearing the final portions of the cigar, requiring touchups or re-lights. This brings out additional notes of cinnamon, oak, and torched sawdust (like burning wood from a dull saw blade). The profile ends around medium-plus in strength, medium in flavor, and medium-plus in body.
Would I Smoke This Cigar Again?
While I’ll admit, it took some time for me to come around, this is definitely a solid smoking experience I’ll keep on a monthly rotation. I’ve tried multiple samples of each size Nicaraguan Barrel-Aged (Robusto: 5″ x 50 | Toro: 6″ x 50 | Gordo: 6″ x 60) and I feel that the Toro offers the best balance and complexity; with the Robusto not quite having enough time to showcase the full range of flavors, and the Gordo not having quite the concentration of flavor that the Toro displays. In the end, though, it seemed that all sizes benefitted from additional acclimation in the humidor (more so than usual). Either this, or perhaps my palate simply needed to adjust to the more nuanced style of NBA, compared to the fuller experience of the American Barrel-Aged. Also, the rum-aged aspects of the cigar are much less pronounced; there is a slight “boozy buzz” in the cigar’s first third, and there are subtle notes of oak and sugarcane later on, but these take a bit more seeking out than the bourbon influence of ABA.
- Smoke Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
- Pairing Recommendation: white rum mojito, barrel-aged rum, Belgian Dubbel ale, pour-over coffee (light-roast, Colombian)
- Purchase Recommendation: box-split
- Medium, easy-going and approachable flavors
- Great construction - ash lasting around 2"
- Above-average smoke output, giving plenty of flavor with small, sipping puffs
- Slightly harsh beginning (first half-inch)
- Fairly difficult to seek out the rum influence